If you pop into the National Trust Shop nestled in the heart of Widecombe-in-the-Moor there is now a range of local products on sale made using both rare-breed Whiteface Dartmoor and Greyfaced Dartmoor fleece. The products are made by Dartmoor based companies Twool and Bellacouche.
Twool is a range of natural twines made from the fleece from the Whitefaced Dartmoor. Indigenous to Dartmoor, and well adapted to its upland pastures and moors, the whiteface Dartmoor are as much a part of the landscape as are the tors, heath and hill ponies. The breed originated here and remains largely to this day restricted to Dartmoor.
Kim Stead and her husband who run Twool launched the business last year in order to find a new way to recycle wool that may otherwise be burned, with many Whiteface owners having insufficient sheep to merit the cost of travelling to Liskeard where fleeces must be sold via the Wool Board.
Their beautiful ‘lustre’ wool has a long staple length perfect for spinning a twisted worsted yarn which is very strong and durable, a natural twine.The fleeces are bought direct from the Dartmoor farmers and clip sold via the Wool Board. This amounts to around 12 tonnes a year which produces around 4000 spools of twine a week. The wool is scoured, dyed and spooled in Yorkshire, mainly due to Axminster carpets spinning mill in Buckfast going into adminstration and production having to go north. There are a range of colours. There is even a Twool for Widecombe!
Bellacouche is a range of felt products hand-made in the Bellacouche studio in Chagford. One of those items is the tuffet. You may remember the children’s nursery ryhme Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet. The tuffet is made up of three layers of lovely thick felt and can be used as a cushion or insulating mat between you and a hard chair, damp grass, or other place you choose to sit. Other items include foot felts. These keep your feet snug and warm inside your shoes or boots. They come in a range of sizes small, medium or large which can then be cut to the exact size you need.